- Museum number
Lead-glazed earthenware floor tile with inlaid design illustrating scene from the medieval romance of Tristram and Isolde. This scene is from the end of the romance. Tristram, having fallen in love with Isolde, the wife of Mark, has been banished and is dying in Brittany. Isolde is travelling to Brittany to see Tristram before he dies. In the becalmed boat, there are two pairs of people on each side of the mast. Isolde (with broad hat seated before the oarsman) is in torment and gestures to the sailor to row to the coast. However, Tristram is already dead.
- Production date
Diameter: 240 millimetres
- Curator's comments
Attached to 1885,1113.8990
Attached to 1885,1113.8992-8997
Eames designs 478, 487, 492 and 502 illustrate scenes from the medieval romance of Tristram and Isolde, although the emphasis in this series of tiles is on the heroic acts of Tristram, rather than his love for Isolde. It is very unusual to find figural scenes illustrated on medieval tiles; such tiles usually have geometric or heraldic patterns. These figure tiles from Chertsey were probably originally designed for one of the royal palaces of Henry III, possibly Westminster, and only afterwards used at Chertsey Abbey.
The story as it relates to these tiles, is as follows - Tristram, a skilful hunter and harpist, impresses King Mark of Cornwall. Tristram offers himself as the champion of Cornwall against Morhaut, the ambassador of the King of Ireland. On learning of this, Mark kisses Tristram. Tristram kills Morhaut, which grieves Gormon, King of Ireland.
The figures are skilfully drawn to show the vigour of action or emotion, particularly in the hand gestures and the facial expressions.
- Not on display
- Worn, restored.
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: B.M.Chertsey